UK Label Spotlight: 9 recent crackers!

Even though this is a UK-based website, I live in Sheffield, Yorkshire… I like to cover artists and labels from all over the world and have in the past brought music to you from many parts of all the continents. However, I also like to showcase releases by labels that are closer to home… As a result I occasionally do a post that showcases UK labels; although not, as you will see, just UK bands.

The labels featured here have released some of my favourite music in recent times, and their current output is no exception. So, in addition to the albums I feature here, do go and check out their back catalogues too as you’re certain to find some real gems.

Mountain View by Domboshawa (Drone Rock Records)

Domboshawa is the psychedelic solo project of Anders Broström from Stockholm, Sweden; which has been somewhat championed by Drone Rock Records: this being his third solo release on the label. This might be the best yet with a wonderful blend of ambient drones and space rock elements which combine amazingly well to form a sonic journey that feels both heavy and really chilled out. This is a record to really kick back and zone out to with marvellously melodic guitar solos that just soar into the ether.

Other recent releases from Drone Rock include Peruvian musician Chino Burga; and a collaboration between Mike Vest and Junzo Suzuki (as Mienakunaru). Check out the website here for further details.

The Infinite Corridor by Aquarius Lux (The Weird Beard)

“Aquarius Lux is a collaborative project from the warped minds of The Wyrding Module and Primitive Knot. A black-light retina searing psyche-groove freakout that pays homage to shared influences of psychedelia and motorik space rock.” And searing it certainly is, perhaps even seering. This album powers along in a laser like fashion, etching its beats and riffs onto your brain as it goes. This is a genuinely exciting record which is fuzzy, yet somehow has a clean razor sharp edge to it that you hardly know where to put your ears. It’s like that moment when punk emerged from the primordial soup of prog… genuinely thrilling!

In additional to vinyl, The Weird Beard also have a growing cassette back catalogue of really fine tunes too. You can check it all out at their website here.

German Oak by Anthroprophh (Cardinal Fuzz)

For regular readers of this blog the presence here of both Anthroprophh and Cardinal Fuzz will come as no surprise. I have been writing about releases by the latter for almost as long as I have been writing reviews, and label-meister Dave has built up a roster of regulars and new bands which have cemented a deserved reputation as well as broadened the appeal of the label. Anthroprophh have also released I diverse output over recent years with a series of albums that have varied in their degrees of challenge and levels of experimentalism. This album is something of a microcosm of that with an eclectic mix of tracks from heavy and full on fuzz-monsters (German Oak, the whole of side one on the vinyl), through considered ‘kraut’-influenced numbers such as (You Have Sailed With A Furious Soul), to the acoustic surprise of ‘Wandied’ to a rally chilled out finale in ‘Boxing Day’.

All-in-all this is a terrific addition to both the Cardinal Fuzz and Anthroprophh oeuvres, and one that I am only just beginning to delve into. Check out more from Cardinal Fuzz here, including some new and re-issued Dead Sea Apes material, and some ace new releases from acts as diverse as The Left Outsides, Mugstar, Elkhorn and Monoshock.

6 by Pharoah Overlord (Rocket Recordings)

There’s probably not a label that has challenged me more than Rocket Recordings. They have probably done more to expand my musical taste than any other label over the last few years. I can think of a string of Rocket albums that I have been initially unsure about before really embracing them, and then having them as part of my musical fabric. The latest of these is ‘6’ by Pharoah Overlord which, I must admit, I didn’t get at all on my first few listens. However, as I sit here now with it booming out of my speakers I really wonder why. This is a superb album of electronica which is poppy, even ‘catchy’ to quote my late parents… yet over it is a dark vocal more at home on a death metal album. The initial reaction for me was one of rejection, yet over time I have been able to meld the two elements in my mind and move forward with it… it’s dark and dramatic, and feels like having a disco in a crypt at the moment just before the undead awake… chillingly warm!

Rocket have knocked out some cracking recent releases including early retrospectives from Gnod and Urdog, and some ace new stuff from Shit & Shine, Deafkids/ Petbrick, J Zunz (Lorelle Meets the Obsolete) and Sex Swing. You can see/ hear it all here.

The Oscillation by Iker Ormazabal (Cruel Nature Records)

Cruel Nature is a cassette label based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It is one of those imprints that is wonderfully curated, having an eclectic and inventive back catalogue. In a raft of recent releases the pick for me was this album by Iker Ormazabal, who has been making music individually and collaborative for over fifteen years. His recent solo work “is heavily inspired by acousmatic composers, and acousmatic listening, the music and writings of Pierre Schaeffer, Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, Francisco Lopez, taking inspiration from what is known as ‘deep listening’, listening with intent or acousmatic listening.”

This is certainly the case with this intense series of untitled tracks which draw you in with their dark drones and measured modulations which set out not only the music, but an atmosphere in which to listen to it. This is one of those sets which is both ambient and all-consuming; a sound which defines the idea that ambience does not mean passive. For me you cannot help but to be beguiled by the sonic flourishes set out here, and listening to the complete cycle leaves you strangely calm… liminal music which you gravitate towards, leaving you yourself a in a liminal place. Check out the album here.

The Resistor by Psychedelic Trips to Death (Dirty Filthy Records)

’The Resistor’ is the latest in a series of, er, filthy albums on this label which based in the South West of England. Psychedelic Trips to Death hail from Greece and produce a powerful brand of psychedelia which cuts through the cobwebs and exfoliates the third-eye. It’s high octane music which gradually pummels you with its power and energy, and well on message for Dirty Filthy who seem to be able to unearth these rough diamonds from various corners of the world. You can check out their back catalogue here.

Devotional Syndrome by The Home Current (Woodford Halse)

Woodford Halse is a cassette label that grew out of the wonderful ‘You, the night and the music’ radio show coming out of Doncaster, England. It is everything a label should be showcasing artists through its ‘Undulating Waters’ collections, and through a number of single artist releases. One of my favourite recent releases of theirs is this album by The Home Current, the solo project of Luxembourg-based Martin Jensen. ‘Devotional Syndrome’ is Jensen’s “humble dedication to the beautiful beast that is the bass”; and is a marvellous miscellany of electronica with a freaky dancing edge. While there is a definite nod towards bass-lines here the whole package feels punchy with techno at the heart of much of what Jensen does here. Yet it also works well for me as a suite of tracks to listen more passively too, as you find yourself being submerged within the beats. A terrific album from a terrific label.

Enclosures by Craven Faults (The Leaf Label)

The Leaf Label describes itself as ‘the label you deserve’. It is a rabbit hole all on its own, with a large roster of artists whose ‘usp’ seems to be that of beautiful and thoughtful music. I can’t remember how I first came to know it, perhaps through personal favourites Craven Faults or The Comet is Coming, both of whom I would put in my top ten artists of recent years. And it’s the latest from Craven Faults that I want to highlight here. I have been following their work since the Lowfold Works trilogy came out, and have really bought into every subsequent release… the most recent being ‘Enclosures’. I also totally buy into the concept of conflating the landscapes of West Yorkshire, including its industrial heritage, with moments in musical history which are then played out amazingly in what I can only describe as a tour de force of electronica. Each track proffers its own vistas and you kind of just feel part of the whole experience. I can listen to Craven Faults all day, and this latest output is no exception.

Dual Myths by Mainliner (Riot Season)

OMFG this is one massive motherfucker of an sound. The trio that are Mainliner: Kawabata Makoto (motorpsycho guitar), Koji Shimura (drums) and Kawabe Taigen (bass/vocals), are back with one huge statement of a double album. Four long and intense tracks covering four faces of vinyl, each of which offer different sorts of mind-fucks. This is a set which will drain you, while at the same time leaving you full of a certain sort of energy… a sonic resilience to take on all comers. It’s like a fuzzed up and riffed out Sunn 0))) experience, when you lift the needle at the end of the last side you just wonder what the hell that was that you just heard… in fact you are amazed that you made it to the turntable at all. Check out “Dual Myths’ here.

Mainliner is brought to you by the ever reliable Riot Season, a label run out of the West Midlands whose output varies from the fuzz splendour of such a Mainliner and Hibushibire, to the psychedelia of Earthling Society and Acid Mothers Temple, and the chilled out ur-South America vibe of Familia de Lobos… and many points beyond and between. Check it out here.



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